At a Yale Taps show, sight and sound combine to create a lighthearted display. Against an ethereal, multicolored background, the tappers play with silhouette and let their feet loose. Their 21st annual show, “The Tappers of Oz,” consists of a mix of dance vignettes and an interspersed storyline based around the quintessential tale of misfits following the yellow brick road.
The story begins with a Yalie who loses her way en route to Toad’s and encounters a scarecrow who has no rhythm. As she follows the Schwarzman Yellow Brick Road to find the Wizard who will take her home, she collects a Tin Man looking for moves and a Lion looking for courage. They eventually find their way to the Wizard who ends up being DJ Action spinning the best music on the planet.
Their progression down the Yellow Brick Road is punctuated by a variety of dance numbers to songs ranging from “Stitches” to “Black Skinhead.” Some were energetic, others sexy, still more were smooth. Each dance has a color-coordinated background and outfits that match the mood of the music and the atmosphere of the piece. Although tap can get repetitive at times, each number had its own flavor, keeping the show engaging.
I especially appreciated a slightly avant-garde piece that featured six female dancers with purple tulle skirts tapping the background to Lorde’s “The Love Club” while a woman off to the side sang the lyrics. Although visually appealing, the act focused on the auditory quality of tap, encouraging the viewer to attune their ears and unfocus their eyes. Instead of perceiving each individual tap, I began to sense the flow in the cacophony.
Upon encountering the Wizard-turned-DJ Action, the dancers engaged with the audience by asking them to identify songs they tapped out with their feet. Those who guessed correctly received a candy treat. With each correct guess, Dorothy and her crew got one tap closer to getting home to Toad’s.
The finale hit the audience full force with sounds and visuals; the soundtrack consisted of a mashup of songs from “The Wiz,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “Wicked.” The entire company, separated into different groups by costume, came onstage in a whirlwind of cloth and tapping feet. Their smiles, especially those of the beginners, lit up the room.
A company consisting of 20 tappers, Taps features a variety of experience levels and attitudes. Some are energetic beginners, others edgy experts; all are united by the tapping of their feet. Although some of the pieces lacked cohesion between the choreography and the music and the dancers themselves, the enthusiasm and smiles of the tappers made the show incredibly enjoyable.
Tap reminds us of the power in every step: its impact, its musicality and the vital role is plays in a series.
If your Friday night is looking empty or the winter blues have got you down, take a quick trip to the land of Oz at the Off Broadway Theatre. I promise you’ll leave feeling brighter and lighter on your feet.